The gas pump was chugging along and as I went to lean against my car, waiting for its tank to be refilled I stopped abruptly two inches away. “Ew,” I said as I peered at the layer of grime and dirt I have somehow failed to notice until that moment. “Guess it’s time for a carwash,” I sighed and looked over at the automated carwash a few yards away. The pump clicked, indicating I was at capacity and after replacing the gas cap and printing my receipt I climbed into my jeep and steered around back towards the entrance of the carwash.
“Why do they make these things so complicated?” I groaned as I tried to interpret the various bells and whistles I could receive with the standard wash. Finally, I punched one of the buttons (I think it was the purple one) and inserted my credit card. Seeing the signal change to green in front of me I assumed the machine had accepted my selection and I was on my way to a clean car. Pulling into the cavernous box of bizarre machinery I inched forward until the signal changed to red. Putting the car in park, I leaned back and waited for the soapy magic to begin. Like a guest in a VIP box, I watched the various cogs and chains spray my car down, soap it up, scrub it and air dry it with the precision and detached intensity I found mesmerizing.
Finally, after the dryer thingy began to wind down, the green light flashed and I started the car and began to drive out of the carwash. “What the hell is that?” I remember thinking as I slammed on the breaks mere feet out of the carwash. Something, rather somethings had bobbed in front of my moving car and disappeared in front of my grill. “God, I hope that wasn’t a kid or something,” I thought with mounting trepidation. Getting out of my car, I slowly walked around to the front of the vehicle and saw… two giant Sandhill Cranes staring blankly back at me. “Oh thank God!” I sighed. Recovering from my slight heart-attack at the thought of hitting children, I tried to shuffle the birds to the side of the carwash and out of my path. Nothing doin.
This, being my first dealings with these large, somewhat prehistoric looking creatures, I was surprised that my efforts went completely ignored. No matter the amount of yelling, clapping, waving of my arms in what I thought were menacing movements, not even stomping my feet at them rustled more than a curious head tilt from the cranes. After about two minutes of these antics, I decided it would be a good idea to throw something at the birds to get them to move. Bad idea. Finding a large piece of mulch, I weighed it in my hand to make sure it wouldn’t injure the stubborn duo, and then flung it. The birds watch the wood chip as it soared towards them and at the last second the both, as if the move was synchronized, took a step to the left and watched it fall with disinterest.
Now I was mad. What the heck was with these birds, anyway? Looking back at my jeep I hoped to see a way that I could maneuver around the troublesome pair and be on my way. There was no escape. I would either be forced to mow them down or find a way to scare them away. I must admit, the first option was sounding more and more attractive, but I decided to try one last thing.
Taking a few steps backwards, I closed my eyes, let out a breath and then ran at the birds full tilt. Arms waving, I let out a yell like a banshee and rushed them. The positive- they moved. The negative- they moved to the hood of my jeep. These were vindictive birds indeed. Wanting to cry at this point, I sat down on the curb and just stared at them, willing them to just let me pass. Life lesson= do not challenge Sandhill Cranes to a staring match. They will win every time. “Fine! I didn’t want to leave anyway!” I yelled at them as I stood up and moved towards the gas station shopette, “Stay there as long as you want, I don’t care”. Oh yeah, using reverse psychology on birds with brains the size of a walnut is definitely the way to go, very effective (about as effective as using sarcasm in an email).
Entering the cool air conditioned shopette, I tried to forget about my feathered nemesis outside and strolled the aisles leisurely. Ten minutes of inventorying the various dry goods and candies of the place, I selected a cherry Laffy Taffy and walked to the counter. Throwing some change down, I looked up to see that the clerk was chuckling about something. “I think your friends may have flown the coop, man,” the goateed slacker-type said as he handed me a receipt. “Huh?” In my attempt to forget my battle of the birds only a few minutes prior I had almost succeeded in casting the episode out of my mind. Following his gaze, I looked outside at my vehicle, and realized… it was unoccupied. “Oh thank God!” I sighed in relief. Rushing out of the automatic doors I ran towards my jeep, half afraid that they were playing a malevolent game of hide-and-seek and would spring out at any second to foil my escape.
The birds were nowhere in sight, but they had left a parting gift. A big one… all over the hood of my newly-washed car.
At work the following day, I scanned through my email and saw a forward from my friend Angie:
FWD: Crazy man caught on tape trying to scare birds away from car, MUST SEE! HILARIOUS!
I deleted the message, claimed a stomach ailment and went home sick. Google “the gas station birdman” and you’ll see why.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: While pumping some gas on the way home from work this afternoon (the concept of filling up my gas tank at this point is almost humorous) I noticed two very out of place visitors at the BP station. Two preening Sandhill Cranes were taking in the sights of the gas station by the edge of the carwash and the storefront. They just seemed so awesomely awkward and out of place, I had to snap a few pictures of them before zooming on home. The two attendants of the station tried (feebly at best) to shoo the birds away, but they were quite content to stay put. Watching the two humans act like crazy wahoos in an attempt to rid themselves of two stoically patient and reserved birds was pretty amusing. Almost as funny as paying close to $4.00 for a gallon of unleaded. Almost.
Love & Squirrels.